River of the Year


About River of the Year:

For the past twenty years, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has annually recognized one river as the River of the Year. This recognition is done to raise awareness of the important recreational, ecological, and historical resources associated with the state’s rivers and streams.

The River of the Year is celebrated throughout the year. Events have included paddling trips, a speaker series, clean up days, photography contests, and more. Partnerships of community groups organize the events including a Sojourn paddling trip. In addition, POWR coordinates the production and distribution of a free poster celebrating the river.

The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, or POWR, administers the River of the Year program. Local organizations submit nominations. POWR also helps organize and support local watershed associations, as well as the groups who lead a dozen sojourns on rivers around the state each year.

Pennsylvania’s River of the Year honors have been presented annually since 1983.  The past feature Rivers of the Year are:

2013 – Monongahela River

2012 – Stonycreek River

2011 – Delaware River

2010 – Lackawaxen River

2009 – Lower and Middle Susquehanna River

2008 – Youghiogheny River

2007 – Lehigh River

2006 – Three Rivers

2005 – West Branch Susquehanna River

2004 – North Branch Susquehanna River

2003 – French Creek

2002 – Delaware River

2001 – Juniata River

2000 – Kiskiminitas-Conemaugh River

1999 – Schuylkill River

1998 – Youghiogheny River

1997 – Lehigh River

1996 – Tulpehocken Creek

1996 – Clarion River

1995 – Upper Delaware

1995 – Juniata River

1994 – Allegheny River

1994 – Susquehanna River

1993 – Meshoppen Creek

1993 – North Branch and Main Stem Susquehanna River

1992 – Yellow Breeches Creek

1992 – West Branch Susquehanna River

1991 – North Branch Susquehanna River

1991 – Pine Creek

1990 – Catawissa Creek

1989 – Bear Run

1988 – West Branch Susquehanna River

1986 – North Branch Susquehanna River

1983 & 1984 – Clarion River

For more information on River of the Year, contact Amy Camp at (412) 918-6563 or acamp@pecpa.org.

5 thoughts on “River of the Year

  • william bailey

    I grew up along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. I learned to swim there. I canoed,
    trapped and hunted ducks there. I didn’t fish it because it was void of any aquatic life
    due to acid mine drainage. In the sixty five or so years since then, remarkable changes have occurred some due to natural causes, but most due to the efforts of man. The result is that
    now there are fish in those areas that were once sterile. A lot has been done, but much
    remains to be done. The recognition that would be gained by becoming the River of The Year would be a big help in getting additional rehabilitation work done on the West Branch.

  • Bob Ventorini

    The Ohio River possesses a national reputation in terms of history, location, and an exceptional variety of fish species (90 have been found to inhabit Pennsylvania’s reach; 82 of which are native). The Ohio River is the second largest river system in the United States based on annual discharge, and its annual flow even exceeds that of the upper Mississippi River upstream of their confluence. The Ohio River served as the “Gateway to the West” by providing the most convenient transportation for westward-bound commodities, American Indians, and European settlers and explorers, including Captain Meriwether Lewis who departed Pittsburgh in 1803 with his locally-fabricated keelboat. In the early Nineteenth Century, the relatively unexplored Ohio River attracted several renowned naturalists from Europe and provided one of the world’s most diverse ichthyofaunas for study. As a result, the Ohio River served as the type locality for 30 currently recognized fish species. The Ohio River supported the birth and growth of great American industries, including coal, iron, steel, oil, salt, glass, and aluminum. European settlers colonized western Pennsylvania along the floodplains of the Ohio River, which was found to be most suitable for development. Forests were cleared, soils were disturbed, minerals were extracted, paths and canals were constructed, followed by railroads and paved roads, and the Ohio River was excavated and dammed. Civilization spread rapidly within the Ohio River valley, leading to further expansion and industrialization. The Ohio River served not only for navigation purposes, but also as a commodious sink for decades of municipal and industrial wastes. By the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Ohio River was experiencing habitat and water quality degradation at ecosystem levels of destruction. Demises to the Ohio River’s fish assemblages were eventually met with recoveries. State and federal water pollution control legislation enacted in the 1970s coupled with the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s led to tremendous improvements in the Ohio River’s water quality. The improved water quality conditions gradually resulted in range expansions of native fish species that were once locally exterminated, increases in fish population abundances, improvements of sport fisheries, and ultimately, a revival of angling opportunities within historically impacted river reaches. The present fish assemblage of the Ohio River is characterized as a relatively diverse, warmwater ichthyofauna that, for such a large river, has rebounded remarkably over the past 40 or so years.

  • Ken Undercoffer

    The West Branch of the Susquehanna was a stinking, acidic sewer when I was a
    boy. Now much of the upper reach is a fine fishery. Eagles and herons live and
    feed there. Boaters float the West Branch throughout the year and especially
    during summer on holiday weekends. The economic value of these activities, on a
    river that was dead a generation ago, is immense.

  • Bob Imhof

    Hi Amy:

    As the original Project Manager for the Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania and as a sub-project the development of the West Branch of Susquehanna River Water Trail Maps and Guide, I feel the river as a major asset of the Lumber Heritage Region and the members of the
    committee that assisted in developing the maps and their involvement in remediation
    projects that have begun to bring the river back should receive all the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication. I will vote for the West Branch of the Susquehanna River as the 2014 River of the Year.

    Bob Imhof
    Ridgway, PA

  • Hank Webster

    As a Director with the Clearfield County Conservation District I have been a witness to the many efforts to improve the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. I experienced the cumulative impacts of those efforts last year when I participated in the West Branch River Sojourn earlier this year. We have to expand our efforts and continue to restore this waterway.


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